How to Actively Network While in Isolation
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, industry events are being canceled and professional gatherings are prevented by isolation and shelter in place policies. Measures to protect public health, while necessary, have significantly impacted everyone's ability to network.
While the majority of us understand the need for social distancing in this health crisis, it doesn't mean people don't miss kicking back at a local happy hour or dressing up to attend industry events. Face-to-face interactions are a big part of the lives of many professionals.
One of the benefits of living in a digital society is that we're always connected. This makes remote networking less of a challenge once we set our minds to do it, especially since everyone else is in the same situation. If you're struggling to continue to build and strengthen your network, try these adjustments in your approach.
1. Maintain existing connections
Networking probably isn't foremost in everyone's mind since their usual gatherings are currently on hold. Not to mention, everyone's mind is focused on staying safe. However, a little effort can go a long way toward maintaining your existing connections.
- Drop a friendly "How are you doing?" note to former colleagues, bosses, classmates, mentors, or other professionals you know.
- Create interesting or helpful posts on LinkedIn (or another network where you use a professional account) and try to spark a good conversation. Remember to keep up with any discussions you start and acknowledge participants.
- Drop by and see what your connections are posting about on LinkedIn (or other networks) and respond to their content.
- Check old emails and revive relationships that have fallen to the wayside.
Working in isolation is challenging for many people, and it's easy for the days to blur into one another, especially in our current situation where you can't venture far from home. Try not to lose track of time and remember to steadily reach out to your professional contacts. If it helps, set a goal for yourself and reach out to one or two people each day.
2. Cultivate new relationships
Cultivating new connections and striking up new relationships may feel difficult to do during a pandemic, but it doesn't have to be. To ease into it, you can take a blend of passive and active ways to get introduced.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. Many people have old, outdated profiles they barely look at. With time on your hands, now's a good time to put up a new profile pic, add your latest skills, and start participating.
- Reach out and send thoughtful notes to your contacts' secondary connections or ask people in your online social circles to introduce you to other professionals.
- Learn how to pen a good networking email and try to strike a good conversation with people you've always wanted to meet.
- Be sensitive to any promotional or sales-y approaches that can come across as tacky.
Making introductions and building new relationships isn't always easy under the best of circumstances, but if you successfully learn how to cultivate them online, you'll have acquired a great skill.
3. Seek out virtual events
With cancelations or interruptions of informal networking events, many people are rising to the challenge and creating virtual ways to meet and greet on sites such as Eventbrite and Meetup. These meetings can help alleviate the feelings of isolation or depression associated with the social distancing requirements we're all required to follow. Virtual events can also provide a foundation for finding future employment.
While staying healthy and safe is at the foremost during this tumultuous time, you can also take comfort in knowing the pandemic will come to an end at some point. In the meantime, by continuing to network, you'll have gained some terrific new professional relationships, along with some great new online skills.
Networking while in isolation is a learning curve for many of us, but as we grasp for positives in these difficult times, look at remote networking as a good opportunity to forge deep and meaningful relationships. We're all in this together.